What we have feared but expected has proven true. “Violence will not be tolerated,” the words of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, spoken during a recent press conference, do not apply when the perpetrator wears a badge and the victim is black.It is with great disappointment, but no surprise, that we find the grand jury failure to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown, Jr. Over the last several weeks so many leaks have appeared about the questionable actions of St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch that US Attorney General Eric Holder referred to the leaks as “inappropriate and troubling.” Inappropriate actions, questionable tactics, and a family history indicative of racial bias should have more than justified an answer to the people's call for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Unfortunately we can not place this failure of justice solely on the shoulders of AG Holder or even McCulloch. It has been said that ‘a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich.' What has been proven in St. Louis County, as it was weeks ago in Ohio, is that what can not be indicted, what will be met with impunity, is a police officer who has killed a black person in the United States.
Racism and dehumanization are built into the very fabric of our nation. From the earliest days of colonization this othering and devaluing of the lives of people of color was needed to justify land theft, genocide, slavery and the criminalization that continues today expressed most clearly and demonstrably in our education system, criminal justice system and immigration policy.
As stated by CODEPINK's Sophia Armen, who manages CODEPINK's campaign against RE/MAX for the selling of homes in occupied Palestine, “Today's announcement presents the true face of injustice today in America, an America that wears a false mask of 'post-racial'. As people of color and allies, it is time to see the "justice" system as not broken or corrupt, but functioning in the service of the elite few. We must demand deeply rooted changes in America's systems and in the consciousness of the American public. Only then will we see true justice." As Armen says, people of conscience are expected to stand up. Across America and in St. Louis actions have been planned to show solidarity with the people of Ferguson, and resistance to systems of hetero-patriarchal white supremacy.
CODEPINK's work continues to be in support of a movement for peace. A peace that requires justice in the United States and across the globe, particularly in those places affected by US imperialism and violence based in the pursuit of wealth and the hoarding and abuse of natural resources. We have witnessed the arming of local police departments, and particularly those in the St. Louis area, which have become occupying armies with equipment designed for war. Armies not unlike, and in fact with demonstrable connection to the occupying forces in Palestine and across the globe. We stand ever more vigilant in our fight to address these dangers, while we recognize the absolute need for affected communities to stand strong in their opposition to these oppressive forces.
Nathan Sheard is the CODEPINK Coordinator of the campaign Communities Organize to Demilitarize Enforcement (CODE) based in New York, New York.